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Church Planting Glossary of Terms

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Here are some of the most common terms one encounters when talking about new church starts. If there is a term you'd like clarified, please let us know.

Benchmarks: Goals set ideally by the planter with feedback from the stakeholder team regarding the growth and development of the plant. While there can be numerical benchmarks in terms of number of people gathering and finances received, it’s also important to look at the impact that this new forming faith community is having on the surrounding community.

Book of Discipline: This fundamental book outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work, and procedures of The United Methodist Church. Each General Conference amends The Book of Discipline and the actions of the General Conference are reflected in the quadrennial revision. Often referred to as The Discipline.

Church Planter: This is the specific leader who is entrusted with the responsibility of starting a new church. In a Connectional New Church Start, he or she is the person who is appointed by the conference to start the church. In a Parenting New Church Start, this is the person who works on behalf of the parenting congregation to start the new work.

Coach: A specific person (usually paid) with experience and skills in congregational development who continually holds the planter and the launch team to the vision in their decisions. It is highly recommended that every planter select his or her coach, preferably paid for by their district or annual conference church development team.

Core Team: The initial group of leaders, usually 12, who help with the initial stages of planting.

Discipleship System: The way a congregation connects all aspects of its ministry into a process that moves people from unbelief, to faith in Jesus Christ, to spiritual leadership and maturity. It’s what the local church develops and implements that moves people from before (disconnected to God and the local church/non-Christian/unbeliever, etc.) to after (fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ/spiritual leader/disciple, etc.).

Disciple-Making Faith Community: A faith community whose primary focus is to engage newcomers in such a way that they become active Christians in their local church and community.

Faith Community: When a congregation intentionally connects its worship life with a discipleship process so that it becomes a disciple-making faith community.

Fresh Expressions: As defined by Fresh Expressions US it is “a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. It will come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission, and making disciples and will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context. They are not stepping stones to church. They are not church lite. They are church.

Launch: The first day when a new church or an existing congregation offers a new weekly worship experience that is tied to a discipleship process.

Launch Team: The team(s) that gather to prepare for the start of regular worship and is usually divided into the music team, children’s ministry team, hospitality team, refreshments/coffee team, follow-up team, prayer team, setup team, takedown team, parking and security team, offering team, mission engagement team.

Mentor: A specific person (not paid) who is respected, trusted and selected by the planter as a sounding board and/or source of experience and encouragement.

Mother/Anchor/Parent/Sending Church: The faith community that shares resources with a new faith community including, but not limited to, seed people, financial resources, in-kind donations and shared space.

Network of Congregational Developers: A group of staff with primary responsibility in Congregational Development in Annual Conferences who meet together for support and to resource the United Methodist Church denomination for new church development.

New Congregations: New Congregations are newly organized faith communities that are committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and involve more than a mission project, a new worship service, or the construction of a new building.

Path 1 Team: A United Methodist denominational team made up of representatives from the Council of Bishops, the Network of Congregational Developers, Discipleship Ministries, The General Board of Global Ministries, The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Communications, church planters, and the five national ethnic plans. The Path 1 team has responsibility for developing and implementing a national strategy for new church development in the United States.

Post-launch: A new phase of ministry that happens after the launch of weekly worship that focuses on offering weekly experiential worship and connecting people to the discipleship process.

Pre-launch: The work that is done in preparation for the launching of a new faith community including understanding the context of the community, the casting of a vision, the development of a discipleship process, and the creation of the weekly worship experience that will be offered. Usually a six- to 15-month process depending on the context and the strategies that are used.

Preview Service/Soft Launch: When a new church or an existing congregation offers a once-a-month worship experience as a way to build momentum for the launch of a new faith community.

Supervisor: In The United Methodist Church, the supervisor is the District Superintendent (DS), NOT the coach, mentor, or counselor. The DS supervises pastors' spiritual care, employment, deployment, and District funding (as per The Book of Discipline).

Stakeholders: A common team formed to both guide and encourage the planter which could include the planter, coach, District Superintendent, Church Developer, lay leader from the plant and senior pastor.

Turn-Around Congregation: A congregation who has been in decline over a number of years who implements a strategy to become a disciple-making faith community that engages the people in its community to become active followers of Jesus Christ.

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